Planet Earth working on 3 Mars landers to follow InSight

December 1, 2018 by Marcia Dunn
Planet Earth working on 3 Mars landers to follow InSight
This undated artist rendering from the European Space Agency, shows the European-Russian ExoMars rover. As Mars' newest resident settles in, Planet Earth is working on three more landers and at least two orbiters to join the scientific Martian brigade. ExoMars also will sniff out possible past life, drilling a couple yards (meters) down for chemical fossils. A spacecraft that was part of an ExoMars mission in 2016 crash-landed on the red planet. NASA's InSight spacecraft touched down on Mars on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (European Space Agency via AP)

As Mars' newest resident settles in, Planet Earth is working on three more landers and at least two orbiters to join the scientific Martian brigade.

NASA's InSight spacecraft touched down on the sweeping, red equatorial plains Monday, less than 400 miles (640 kilometers) from Curiosity, the only other working robot on Mars.

That's about the distance from San Francisco to Pasadena, California, home to Mission Control for Mars.

InSight—the eighth successful Martian lander—should be wrapping up two years of digging and quake monitoring by the time rovers arrive from the U.S., Europe and China.

NASA's Mars 2020 will hunt for rocks that might hold evidence of ancient microbial life and stash them in a safe place for return to Earth in the early 2030s. It's targeting a once-wet river delta in Jezero Crater.

The European-Russian ExoMars also will sniff out possible past life, drilling a couple yards (meters) down for chemical fossils. A spacecraft that was part of an ExoMars mission in 2016 crash-landed on the red planet.

The Chinese Mars 2020 will feature both an orbiter and lander. The United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, aims to send its first spacecraft to Mars in 2020; the orbiter is named Hope, or Amal in Arabic.

Planet Earth working on 3 Mars landers to follow InSight
This artist's rendering provided to China's Xinhua News Agency on Aug. 23, 2016 by the lunar probe and space project center of Chinese State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, shows a concept design for the Chinese Mars 2020 rover and lander. As Mars' newest resident settles in, Planet Earth is working on three more landers and at least two orbiters to join the scientific Martian brigade. The Chinese Mars 2020 will feature both an orbiter and lander. NASA's InSight, which touched down on Mars on Monday, Nov. 26 and is the eighth successful Martian lander, should be wrapping up two years of digging and quake monitoring by the time rovers arrive from the U.S., Europe and China. (Chinese State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense via Xinhua via AP, File)

It seems our neighbor Mars holds a siren song for Earthlings, even as NASA shifts its immediate attention back to our moon.

Just three days after InSight's landing, NASA announced a new commercial lunar delivery program. The has chosen nine U.S. companies to compete in getting science and technology experiments to the lunar surface. The first launch could be next year.

NASA wants to see how it goes before trying something similar on Mars.

"The moon is where it's at right now relative to ," said Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA's science mission office, which is leading the lunar payload project.

At the same time, NASA is pushing for an orbiting outpost near the moon for astronauts, at the Trump administration's direction. It would serve as a stepping-off point for moon landings, according to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, and provide critical experience close to home before humans embark on a two- to three-year mission to Mars.

Bridenstine envisions a trip to Mars for astronauts in the mid-2030s, admittedly a "very aggressive" goal.

Planet Earth working on 3 Mars landers to follow InSight
In this undated photo provided by the United Arab Emirates Space Agency, engineers discuss further steps to disassemble a spacecraft's sun shield baffle for further inspections. As Mars' newest resident settles in, Planet Earth is working on three more landers and at least two orbiters to join the scientific Martian brigade. The United Arab Emirates aims to send its first spacecraft to Mars in 2020; the orbiter is named Hope, or Amal in Arabic. NASA's InSight spacecraft touched down on Mars on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (United Arab Emirates Space Agency via AP)
"The reality is, yes, your nation right now is extremely committed to getting to Mars," Bridenstine said following InSight's touchdown, "and using the moon as a tool to achieve that objective as fast as possible."

Mars is the obvious place for "boots on the ground" after the moon, said Zurbuchen.

What makes Mars so compelling—for robotic and, eventually, —is its relatively easy access, said InSight's lead scientist, Bruce Banerdt of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. One-way travel time is six months, every two years when the planets are closest. Conditions are harsh, but relatively hospitable. "Kind of like being in Antarctica without the snow," said Banerdt.

On top of that, Mars may be one of the most likely places to find life outside of Earth, according to Banerdt.

Jupiter's moon Europa may have harbored or even still hold life, but it would take so much longer and cost so much more to get there that Banerdt said it's hard to imagine achieving such a mission anytime soon.

A life-seeking mission to Europa might come about every decade, Banerdt said, while it's plausible to have robotic sniffers launching to Mars every two years. That's five Mars missions for every single one at Europa, he noted.

Planet Earth working on 3 Mars landers to follow InSight
This artist's rendering from NASA depicts the Mars 2020 Rover. As Mars' newest resident settles in, Planet Earth is working on three more landers and at least two orbiters to join the scientific Martian brigade. NASA's Mars 2020 will hunt for rocks that might hold evidence of ancient microbial life and stash them in a safe place for return to Earth in the early 2030s. It's targeting a once-wet river delta in Jezero Crater. NASA's InSight spacecraft touched down on Mars on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (NASA via AP)

Mars currently has two functioning spacecraft on the surface—InSight and Curiosity—and six satellites in working order from the U.S., Europe and India. The U.S. is the only country to successfully land and operate a spacecraft on Mars. Curiosity has been roaming the red surface since 2012. NASA's much older Opportunity rover was working until June when a global dust storm disabled it.

In pursuit of the geological but not biological secrets deep inside Mars, InSight already is providing astounding pictures of a location "no human has ever seen before," pointed out JPL director Michael Watkins. These photos remind us that in order to do science like this, "we have to be bold and we have to be explorers."

NASA's Mars 2020 launch window opens July 17 of that year. Touchdown would be Feb. 18, 2021.

"You're all invited back," Watkins told Monday's jubilant landing-day crowd.

Explore further: Named for Roman god of war, Mars isn't very kind to visitors

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Nik_2213
5 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2018
No rovers for Valles Marineris ? Disappointed...
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2018
I don't know Nik? Well, yeah I do not "know" Nik!

Rather, I do not know, I am unsure? If our present drone technology is capable to safely move about the Valles Marineris. It appears to be a confused jumble of mushed together and split apart aresography.

As there is such a diversity of landforms to be explored? I would suggest a dispersed landing by a fleet of cheap. disposible probes.

Doesn't have to bre all at once. A dozen probes every year or two for a decade or two should suffice.

Then, if something important is discovered? A more sophisticated (i.e. expensive) drone could be sent to a specific location for a more in-depth study. With the advantage of our having a better grasp of local conditions.

More likely, a single, expensive, swiss-army knife probe will be sent. Not my choice but I generously suggest, the Valles would be a smart destination for a flying or skimming or balloon-drifting probe.
Osiris1
not rated yet Dec 01, 2018
Bottom of Valles Marinaris may contain ancient Martian air. The ..old...air before it left the place. Parts of it are many miles below Mars' ground level. Who knows, if caves there and they go down into the mars to great depth, such air may have been breathable once to Marslings.
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2018
Oh no! Hollow Earth mumbo-jumbo was bad enough. But now we're going to have to listen to that bamboozlement about a Hollow Mars?!?

Oy vey, meshuggeners flisndik amak! as a martian once told me...
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 02, 2018
Oh no! Hollow Earth mumbo-jumbo was bad enough. But now we're going to have to listen to that bamboozlement about a Hollow Mars?!?

Oy vey, meshuggeners flisndik amak! as a martian once told me...
says rrwilliejoe

Why rrwilliejoe - I would never have guessed that you are of "the Tribe". You do hide it well.
But have you stopped going to the Yeshiva now? Or to Temple/Synagogue?
Uhhhh - so you have been speaking with martians, rrwilliejoe? Does SpookyOtto know that?
Please - do tell us all about your conversations with martians while I go fetch the butterfly net. The men in the white coats and the straightjacket should be along to see you soon. Don't run off, rrwilliejoe. Sit and have a nice spot of tea to calm you down. aye?
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
2.3 / 5 (4) Dec 02, 2018
Hopefully, these next times, NASA and/or the other agencies will finally remember to INCLUDE A MOTION-SENSING CAMERA to take movies in the event that mobile life forms may be strolling, crawling, etc. in front of such cameras - so that pictures of what appears to be a life form won't be mistaken for Paradolia (sp?) as in still images.
After all, if the agencies are going to search for the evidence of past Martian life, they would also need to search for current, present Martian life in case not everything had died.
There should be a very good chance that Martian life forms are still there and may have evolved, just as life on Earth has evolved. Mars might be hellish while Earth is more of a paradise, but at least, good motion cameras on the rovers will give humans a hint as to what is in store for the first astronauts to set foot on Mars without major surprises.
rrwillsj
3 / 5 (4) Dec 02, 2018
Well segue, this is the Internet. We can pretend to be any one, any thing, any preposterous we wish.

Such as you pretending to be a Hominidae. When your postings clearly reveal you as of the species Verminous Trollus Unabridged.
charlotte121
1 / 5 (2) Dec 02, 2018
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Surveillance_Egg_Unit
2 / 5 (4) Dec 02, 2018
Well segue, this is the Internet. We can pretend to be any one, any thing, any preposterous we wish.

Such as you pretending to be a Hominidae. When your postings clearly reveal you as of the species Verminous Trollus Unabridged.
says rrwilliejoe aka charlotte121 in the infomercial/spam as noted above

@rrwilliejoe - you are confusing me with such as jonesdave and others in this site - who admit to being related biologically and mentally to chimpanzees, monkeys , gorillas, bonobos, etc. along with all of their primate-type monkeyshines and with whom they all share DNA plus walking on two legs.

I protest - since I have lost my place under a bridge to DaJerk aka DaShniebo the Troll who brings his full complement of verminologic science quackery to physorg for the purpose of acquiring the adulation and praise from such as yourself - you may consider me to be a higher level above primates. Only my human HOST is fully human, while I am of a superior form of life.
rrwillsj
not rated yet Dec 03, 2018
Oh segue, the Sixties are so over! It is time you stop dropping acid. Or, are you a product of the gasoline huffing generation?

It is rather obvious that you have failed to achieve superiority to anyone.
& for that matter, you are obviously quite inferior to most.

I will generously concede that you are equal to the trumpdiver cretins & quisling copperheads.
guptm
not rated yet Dec 03, 2018
Why repeat landers and rovers, why not set up a station there?

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